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Friday, December 6, 2013

BOONDOCKING ON THE BAJA


We arrive at the port near La Paz bright & early. Don’t see too much as we are down in the hull. Finally out & it is another 2 hours before we leave. There is a military check & each vehicle is inspected. (In fact we have quite a few military checks on the peninsula. They appear to be only checking vehicles going north – although it really wouldn’t be too hard to hide anything! We will see what the Mexican/USA border is like!!)

Eventually we are free & head through the lovely town of La Paz – stopping at one of the huge supermarkets to stock up. Then off to the beach to start boondocking (the American name for free camping). We head south to Los Barrilies, over some large mountains and are tempted to stay right on the beach as it is such a pretty place & there are so many friendly Americans there. But after lunch & a swim, we continue south, leaving the tarseal behind us, eventually stopping for the night at the northern most beach of Cabo Pulmo National Park. On the beach there are turtle nests safely screened from all the quads that explore the beaches & dry river beds.

After a lovely peaceful night we continue exploring. There are so many magic spots, perfect to boondock. We could stop every few kilometers. We pull into the little township at Cabo Pulmo to find out about snorkeling. There are trips out in boats, but we hear that we can snorkel right off the beach at Playa los Arbolitos. So after a yummy lunch of tacos we head on to the beach. We can’t camp right on the beach, but not too far away, & the snorkeling is amazing. Here we meet 2 American guys – Scott & Richard. After a lot of chatting Richard offers us a spot at his home to leave GR2 when we go home. How awesome is that. He lives just north of San Diego – so it will be perfect.

After spending the next morning snorkeling – the fish are amazing there are so many varieties & John even sees a turtle– – before heading south. The road deteriorates considerably, but the beaches are gorgeous. We finally reach San Jose del Cabo & follow the double laned motorway past all the hotels to the party town of Cabo San Lucas . It is getting late, but I want to go out on a panga to see the arch at Lands End. The beach is one big party & there are pangas/ water taxis lined up along the beach. After negotiating a price we are off. It is a lovely sunset ride out past the beaches & arch to the Pacific Ocean. But no time to linger – it is Saturday night & we want to get out of the city & find a peaceful spot to boondock.

At dusk we find a wide sandy beach – the only noise the last few quads heading in before its dark, & then a few fishermen heading out the next morning. We are now heading north, just inland from the Pacific coast. There is amazing desert scenery & glimpses of the ocean. Eventually we are back in La Paz getting diesel & bread (cakes as well of course), before heading further north to the whale watching/ fishing  town of Puerto San Carlos. There are no whales at this time of year (sadly!) & the town is pretty scruffy, so we find a spot well away from town to tuck ourselves in for the night. It is getting chillier as we head north so we are not outside for long.

Time again to head across the peninsula to the Sea of Cortez. This time to some lovely bays in the Bahia Concepcion. We stop at Playa Luigi & then at Playa Juncalito for the night. The wind has picked up & it is getting chilly. Winter will be here soon. The next day we explore more amazing beaches with lots of campgrounds. We end up stopping after only 140km because we cannot resist the postcard perfect bay at Playa Escondito. We nearly have the place to ourselves because the access road is 4x4 only.  

 We spend a lovely evening with Ben & Kylie from Montana, sitting beside a roaring fire. The next day we are sad to pull ourselves away. So much more to see & experience. Some little towns with lovely old mission churches, & of course more beaches. Some fishing villages & others covered with American RV’s, cottages, or fancy resorts. We stop for a bit longer at Santa Rosalia to walk past the quaint wooden houses, peek into Eiffel’s cast iron church (yes the same Eiffel of the tower in Paris) & stare at the ruins of a massive mine building. They are still currently mining copper in a huge open cast mine. Then we head inland to San Ignacio – a tiny oasis in the middle of the desert, with yet another lovely Mission church. But it is too early to stop, so we continue across the peninsula to Guerreles Negro with its huge salt fields. It is also home to yet more whale watching in the right season. We head out to the old lighthouse, but on finding a few poor huts in residence, move out to a spot in the marshy area. Yet another gorgeous sunset & sunrise over the water. I pop out to take photos the next morning & find us surrounded by water. The tide has risen – fortunately we are not stuck.

Again we cross the peninsula- this time toward Bahia de Los Angeles. We stop for Wifi & amazingly meet an Aussie lady who lives here half of each year, & here find out about a deer sanctuary up the road. We stop to get a free tour of these lovely animals that have been saved from extinction.  These guys can run up to 95kmph. Amazing! Later in the day when stopped for lunch at a surf beach we meet 3 Aussie guys, in an American van, chasing the waves. Aussies are everywhere! Then more gorgeous driving through some amazing desert scenery. We have decided that Dr Seuss came here before he illustrated his books. The Boojum Trees just make you want to laugh, they are so amazing. But beware, everything here is incredibly prickly. Yet another magic beach, fire, sunset & sunrise when we finally reach Bahia de Los Angeles.

After exploring the area we head back inland & then north. The desert is not at all boring, but constantly changing. I particularly love the huge boulders surrounded by weird plants. We stop to look at cave paintings – I agree with John – boring! & detour off the road to see an old Onyx mine. Again rather unexciting. We could stay & camp, but decide to push on. Shall we head to a beach to boondock or go to a camping ground in town. The campground at El Rosario wins out as it has Wifi & we need to pay some pesky bills. Bonus is Skype & yummy fish tacos for dinner. (That was John, I had potato ones!)

We are out of the desert & now into the cropped area with 1,000’s of greenhouses – more than we have ever seen before, & unfortunately civilization (albeit scruffy civilization) Boondocking is going to get harder to find, & it is the weekend, making it even harder.

We take a detour to Bahia San Quintin & discover some sandy tracks to the coast, surrounded by little volcanoes – a perfect place for a quad. Back on the main road there is more traffic & greenhouses. We opt to explore the coastal route along some very suss tracks, the coast here is rugged with lots of cliffs. There are locals collecting the smooth rocks by the sackfull – we assume they are sent to garden centres all over the States. Eventually we end up past the town of Erendira, on a quiet cliff top.

Did I say quiet – you could hear the seals barking over the wind. The next morning we spot them out on a rock. We continue following our coastal route, meeting 3 Israelis. They ask if the road continues, & we say we hope so! We meet them again coming towards us – they say the road has big cracks & we can’t go any further. Of course we think we can, but sadly we come to total washout. We have to back track & return to the main road. It is Sunday night & tomorrow we want to get some jobs done on GR2 in Ensenada, so we opt for the security of a camp ground, after exploring the peninsula & braving the crowds at La Bufadora (the blowhole)

It only takes a day to get GR2 all sorted. First a clean as she really is filthy, then on to a mechanic for a grease & oil change (filters the whole works, then to a spring guy & finally an auto electrician for the brake lights. It is dark by the time we return to the same campground. The next morning we decide to brave the frontier. First we head through Ensenada (stopping at Walmart to shop) & then follow the coast north only stopping for one of the famous lobster lunches at Puerto Nuevo. Then on to the more serious business of border crossing. We had planned to go to Tecate to cross, but missed our turning (by stopping for a lobster lunch) & so ended up in Tijuana. We didn’t want to cross the busiest border in the world, so we finally found the Atay crossing & sat in a long queue, only to discover that we were in the wrong queue! They let us through anyway. Then onto vehicle inspection – had our avocado taken from us & ate our last mandarin before it was taken! Then had to wait for our visas. A change of shift, lots of staff chatting to each other, & a girl being taken away in handcuffs made it a long wait. Finally we are through & we set the GPS onto the nearest Walmart where we intend to sleep for the night.

It is cold & drizzly; making it fell as if our holiday is over. The next few days are spend catching up with Emma, Drew & Georgia, getting maps, checking out vehicle insurance, shopping, &  visiting some RV places. Before we know it GR2 is tucked up at Richard & Debbras’s home & we are on the train to Los Angeles & then the long 15 hour flight home.

We have loved the beaches & wilderness areas of the Baja & will be back. Who would like to join us?

Adios Amigos until next year.

 

 

 

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